Branching out on my walks around my suburb of Orange Grove I came to Orange Grove Park. Here I found heritage trees (trees older than sixty years): conifers, pin oaks, jacaranda and what a friend has told me might be a carob tree. Amongst the younger trees are palm trees and white stinkwood.
It seems as though it is a space that integrates the needs of some of the poor in our area while maintaining cleanliness. (While the toilet block was being cleaned, structures that might be linked to electricity supply in the area were surrounded by litter. Nonetheless, overall, it has a pleasing energy.)
Apart from the “carob tree”, which is PSHB infested, the others look healthy for now.
Now that PSHB Fungicide has been registered I felt the desire to adopt it. However, there is one more step needed before I call an arborist to apply the treatment. (Even though the instructions are on the bottle, it is something I would rather outsource to an arborist -the infestation is high up.)
Before I do so though, I would have to apply to City Parks for permission to treat it. And to create mulch beds around each magnificent tree. And to boost their immunity if needed. And to plant a new crop of trees, in the spaces in between these gracious oldies. Perhaps grow some cape gooseberries under the conifers. And other types of berries. And some spekboom around the toilet facilities. Or the soccer field. Or both.
URBAN FOREST OVERSIGHT STRUCTURE
It would be really helpful to have clear guidelines to follow though. Perhaps a civil society structure to work alongside City Parks. Or simply to work within the framework of city by-laws. This is not as difficult as I once imagined for NORA (Norwood and Orchards Residents’ Association) has taken responsibility for Norwood Park.
Registering conservancies is another option especially in areas that have sensitive eco-systems.
On the other hand, there is another structure being talked about that could provide oversight, and perhaps even garner resources to make up for the deficits created by apartheid and zuptanomics. It also has the possibility, I have been told, of channeling resources into many useful job-creating projects. It would also simplify the process for individuals like me who want to be proactive and responsible citizens without overwhelming the system with requests. Or lead to lone rangers doing as they please, on public property, rather than just on their own sites.
POTENTIAL TREE PLANTING SITES
As I wait to hear whether this will take off or not, I have started identifying public spaces in my suburb that could potentially be used in planting projects and maintenance programmes:
Besides Orange Grove Park, the grounds belonging to the Reference Library on Louis Botha Avenue has been ploughed up. I think it could be used to create an urban Food Forest. The Library might also want to consider providing books and other resources in support of this.
Spekboom which is drought and fire resistant would do well at the electrical sub-station. A challenge though is the beer bottles that drink-as-you-go residents feel free to toss into it.
Products for Tree Immunity Support
On a different note, Sylvia’s Garden Centre has started selling compost produced by Bark Unlimited. This is the only company I know of that has an AfriCompliance Certificate. Using certified suppliers has become necessary in a largely unregulates or self-regulated sector.
Random Harvest supplies rock dust which I think behaves like chelated supplements by allowing each plant to draw the elements it is deficient in, in the quantities in which it is needed.
Talborne Organics is Control Union Certified. I supplies my favourite fertilzer, Fertlis Earthworm Castings. Alternatively, you might want to consider starting your own earthworm farm.
For large tree planting projects it is best to have compost bulk delivered as this also cuts out single use plastic.
Sources and Resources
Bark Unlimited: https://barkunlimited.co.za/product/bark-unlimited-compost/
Information on rock dust: https://growguru.co.za/products/volcanic-rock-dust
Talborne Organics: https://www.talborne.co.za/
Organic Certification: https://certifications.controlunion.com/en/certification-programs/certification-programs/input-for-organic-farming